Spain’s new “teleworker” visa is open to workers and their families who meet the requirements.
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Hop between tapas bars in Madrid, delight in the art and culture in Barcelona or simply soak up the sun in the Canary Islands.
For most people, that beats awkward conversations by the water cooler in a lonely suburban office park.
Remote workers looking for a change of scenery can now live and work in Spain if they meet the requirements of its new visa program.
The visa is addressed to “international teleworkers“, according to the Spanish government. The so-called “digital nomad” visa is open to a wide variety of remote workers and has already sparked considerable interest.
Google searches in the United States for “digital nomad visa Spain” increased by 66% at the end of January, according to digital marketing specialists Semrush.
The new visa is for foreigners who carry out work or professional activities remotely using computers or other forms of telecommunications, according to the Spanish Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration.
- be nationals of countries outside the European Economic Area, which includes countries of the European Union plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway
- Be a self-employed worker or employee of a company that operates outside of Spain.
- Not have a criminal record in Spain or anywhere else during the five years prior to the application.
- Have health insurance with a company that operates in Spain
- Be qualified to work in your field, as evidenced by a college degree or work experience.
Applicants must also provide proof of sufficient work history. The self-employed may prove it by proving a professional relationship with a foreign company of a minimum duration of three months, according to the requirements.
Applicants must also have sufficient funds to support their stay in Spain, which can be demonstrated by demonstrating a minimum monthly income of at least double the Spanish minimum monthly wage, which was raised to 1,260 euros ($1,340) last week. That equals about $2,680 a month, or a little more than $32,000 a year.
Spouses and families can join successful applicants, but applicants will have to demonstrate higher salaries to bring them on board. For a family member, the applicant must demonstrate an additional 75% of the country’s monthly minimum wage, or $1,000 more per month in income. After that, they will need to show 25% for each additional dependent, or about $335 per person.
Thus, for a family of four to move to Spain, the applicant would have to demonstrate an income of $4,350 per month, or about $52,200 per year.
The warm climate and tempting cuisine are just two of the attractions of a country where daily life often costs less than in other parts of Western Europe. The cost of living in Spain is, on average, 20% cheaper than in the United Kingdom, according to the mobile comparator Compare my move.
Market research manager Fernando Angulo said he has lived as a digital nomad for the past 18 years. Angulo, who currently lives in Prague, told CNBC that he will soon move to Barcelona.
Fernando Angulo (pictured here in Colombia) said he has lived in many countries as a “digital nomad,” including Russia, Argentina and India.
Source: Fernando Angulo
“People I know who work in Thailand and Bali are moving to Spain,” he said. “They want the benefits of living in a European country… lower taxes, climate, mentality and cheaper living costs mean it is becoming a big hotspot for digital nomads.”
He said he is seeing a lot of interest from those working in “the fintech and crypto worlds as well; there are a lot of opportunities for crypto wallet holders.”
Zach Boyette, who works remotely in Bulgaria, said of visas for digital nomads: “Frankly, I don’t see why more countries aren’t considering this.”
Source: Zach Boyette
Zach Boyette, co-founder of digital marketing agency Galactic Fed, called Spain’s digital nomad visa a “game changer.”
Boyette, a longtime digital nomad, said the visa allows digital nomads to “spend more time in Europe,” he said..
“This is the latest, and probably the largest, of a trend of other countries adopting similar measures,” he said.
During the pandemic, places like Bermuda, Croatia and Portugal launched programs to attract remote workers live and work from its shores.
“I think it will be good for Spain’s economy to have these entrepreneurs, smart people, independent workers with different perspectives, come to live there and potentially establish themselves there over time,” he said. “They are not taking jobs from Spain. They are just injecting capital into the economy.”
Prithwiraj Choudhury, an associate professor at Harvard Business School who studies future labor trends, said Spain’s new remote worker visa is financially compelling for two reasons:
- The tax rate for most workers is 15%, and
- Visa holders can earn up to 20% of their income from local Spanish companies.
But countries face benefit from remote worker programs also.
Not only do they spend money, but remote workers can “act as catalysts for flows of knowledge and resources between regions, benefiting themselves, their organizations and their host countries,” he said.
Digital nomads can also affect property markets, said Marc Pritchard, marketing director at property developer Taylor Wimpey Spain.
“We have already seen an increase in the number of people buying second homes in Spain and then using them for work,” he said. “Buyers are also staying in their properties longer than before the pandemic. We anticipate this will increase as both digital nomads and energy nomads head to Spain to wait out the winter somewhere warm.”
While it will take time to see the number of people who accept the new visa, Boyette, who said he has not paid rent or mortgage since 2016, is hopeful that it will have an impact beyond the country’s borders:
“Frankly, I don’t see why more countries aren’t considering this,” he said. “My hope is that with Spain doing this, they will see increased revenues, a net positive result that will eventually lead to France, the UK and larger countries adopting and exporting this idea around the world.”